Unless we have been living with our heads in the sand, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the talk of the teenage obesity epidemic that is purportedly taking over our communities. Even though it is quite possible your family has not been affected, you may have friends or relatives who have been afflicted. Sounds scary, huh?
Beyond all the scare tactics we hear in the news today, for some families, teenage obesity is becoming quite a challenge. In some instances, genetics plays a large part in how our bodies develop throughout our teenage years. But in other instances, it is the habits we are allowed to develop that determine what we see when we look in the mirror or walk past that reflective pane glass in the mall.
Body image as a teenager plays a major role in the psychological development of that child well beyond the teenage years. Not only is the psychological development of your teenager inextricably tied to body image, but the long term health of your child is as well.
Obesity in children and teenagers has far reaching health implications that we are today just beginning to unravel. Diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and so on are lying in wait for the teenager who allows her weight to spiral out of control.
We may be wondering what we can do as parents to communicate to our teens the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. It is my opinion that helping your teen to develop a healthy image of herself is most important.
The teenage years can be brutal with the teasing that seems to be constant throughout this period. It is my contention that some kids feel that by poking fun at others, they can make themselves feel better about themselves.
Unfortunately, some teens tend to take this teasing personally and may begin to use food as an escape. By being ever vigilant in finding ways to praise your teen and to strengthen his feelings of self worth, you will be building him up psychologically and preparing him to face the onslaught of pressure coming at him from the other side.
In other words, constantly be searching for reasons to tell him he is great.
Now please don’t feel that building your teen up psychologically will solve all the problems related to weight and self image. You also need to provide healthy foods for her to snack on when she breaks up with her boyfriend – cookies and coke will not do.
It is your responsibility to provide your teens with healthy alternatives to processed and fast foods. Fruits and vegetables should abound.
It may take a few weeks before your teen takes to eating carrot sticks instead of cake, but if you set the example, your teen will in most cases follow your lead.
Remember, once your children reach their teen years, your time to influence them is growing short. Make these the best years of all of your lives.